I know A-Rod has had an unbelievable year, he’s the runaway favorite and I’m going to get laughed at for saying this but what fun is a one man race.
Mike Lowell should be the American League MVP. Seriously before you close out the window because you think I’m an idiot just hear me out for a minute. Lowell has, like A-Rod, has had an unreal year. The nine year veteran is having a career year he’s hitting .326 before tonight he had a career high 111 RBI but he drove in five in tonight’s win over the A’s giving him not only a new career high of 116 RBI but he now has the Red Sox record for runs batted in by a third basemen. Pretty good when you look at some of the Red Sox past guards of the hot corner. Notably Mr. High horse Wade Boggs.
Lowell has now set career highs in hits, RBI, batting average, OBP and total bases. His batting average is currently 33 points higher than his previous career high and 47 points higher than his career average. His OPS+ is at 128 which is the second highest of his career. He was at 132 in 2003 a year in which not only the Marlins won the World Series but he was 11th in MVP voting, a Silver Slugger and an All Star.
The MVP is not just a numbers game thought, if it was A-Rod is the clear favorite. Despite a career year A-Rod has put up better numbers. The MVP shouldn’t go to the guy that has just put up the best numbers it should go to the player that has the most impact on a team, and that team should be a playoff team.
The way Lowell has played this year has saved the Red Sox season. Manny Ramirez returned to the lineup Tuesday and that is excellent news for the Sox and Sox fans but let us not forget who helped carry the Red Sox to this point. How bad would things have gotten with out Mike Lowell stepping up into the fourth spot?
I say they’d have been pretty bad since after Manny’s injury they played around .500 ball but after tonight they are 30 games above .500. I argue that without Lowell we would have seen worse then the 9-8 record in September. That would leave the Red Sox in an interesting position. They probably still would have made the playoffs but it would have been a lot more nerve racking.
Here is a stat breakdown from baseball-reference and Sons of Sam Horn for sOPS or situational OPS (Above 100 is better than league average OPS for this situation.) between Lowell and Mr. Clutch Big Papi.
2 Outs, RISP - Late & Close - Tied - Within 1 R - 2 R - 3 R - 4 R
162 - 112 - 192 - 168 - 169 - 170 - 170
150 - 94 - 92 - 104 - 107 - 124 - 127
late & close are plate appearances in the 7th inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck.
Not surprisingly Ortiz has better clutch numbers but since it is the Most Valuable Player Award, value has to come in to play somewhere right? You expect players like Ortiz and A-Rod and put up big numbers in clutch situations and throughout the season. Not that Lowell is making the league minimum or something but he was a throw-in in the Josh Beckett deal, I’d say that he’s been a pretty good value.
Lowell has not only played a vital offensive role in the Red Sox run to being any combination of two Red Sox wins or Yankee losses away from their first AL East crown since 1995 but he also plays gold glove defense at third. Just to give you a touch of perspective Mo Vaughn had the highest OPS on the 1995 team (148) and was the AL MVP.
I know that Mike Lowell doesn’t have much of a chance when stacked up against A-Rod. Here is a stat break down of Lowell and Rodriquez this season from baseball-reference.com. Compared to most other players Lowell is definitely worthy of serious consideration, if not the award. Unfortunately he’s up against maybe the best player ever having his best year.
Mike Lowell in 2007
G R H 2B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ TB
149 74 184 36 20 111 3 53 69 .324 .380 .500 128 284
Alex Rodriguez in 2007
G R H 2B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+ TB
155 139 178 30 53 151 24 91 116 .311 .417 .640 180 367
The thing that hurts Mikey the most is the fact that the last Yankee to put up numbers like A-Rod has this year was a guy named Mickey Mantle. That pretty much clears up any doubt that he is one of the best players ever and he’s having one of the best years ever.
I’d love to see Mike Lowell win the MVP and in my mind he’s the MVP of the Red Sox and should absolutely be in the top five in the voting. He won’t win, it’s all but sewn up for A-Rod and I know people will look and this a instantly name five guys that they think are more deserving then Lowell but in following the Red Sox all year he’s the MVP for me.
Who knows maybe they will pull together and Mike Lowell will turn out to be the World Series MVP, although I think JD Drew is going to be the breakout guy in the playoffs.